The FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has moved quickly to pour water on Ferrari’s latest attempt to wrestle the 2012 Drivers’ Championship title from Sebastian Vettel’s grasp.
The investigation calls came after video footage emerged that appeared to indicate the German performed an illegal overtaking move under yellow flags during the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The crux of the dispute centres around a passing move Vettel performed on Jean-Éric Vergne during the early stages of last weekend’s race.
Vettel was accused of completing the overtaking manoeuvre before he reached the illuminated solid green board along the Reta Oposta straight, however the footage clearly shows a marshal on the left-hand side of the circuit waving a green flag at the point where Vettel performed the move.
The footage vindicates the Red Bull Racing driver and rightly leaves Ferrari with no hope of being able to take their claims any further.
Vettel had previously been accused of an illegal passing move on Kamui Kobayashi, but that was quashed when footage showed the move occurred when the ‘slippery surface’ flags were being shown, and not when any yellow flags were being displayed.
Quite why it took the tabloid press and Ferrari almost a week to act on this other footage is a question that will probably, sadly, go unanswered.
What must be acknowledged is that the FIA folk in Race Control have access to a wealth of electronic data, GPS information and telemetry that quickly alerts them to illegal passing moves, and at no stage what this alleged breach detected.
If it was missed during the race, then the teams have a 30-minute window after the chequered flag is waved to appeal any misconduct before the final result is declared. Ferrari didn’t do this, despite this footage being readily available.
If it was genuinely missed by the FIA – and I find it difficult to believe – then it should be given the same treatment as a botched refereeing decision. You don’t award a penalty goal the week after a grand final match, and the same logic should apply here.
Thankfully, Whiting has waded in to put a stop to to this nonsense, and declared Vettel’s passing move completely legal.
“If the lights are not installed at a flag post then the driver responds to the first signal that is shown,” Whiting told Auto Motor Und Sport.
“In Vettel’s case, between the last yellow light and the green light there was a green flag being waved.
“The distance is 350 metres here (in Brazil). Vettel responded to the flag and did everything right.”
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